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review from Sarah Handel- NPR Talk of the Nation (AP)

5 May

Tweeted Review from Sarah Handel- NPR Talk of the Nation

Mar 28 2011
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Nowhere Near Normal, by Traci Foust

I read this book last weekend. First, this is awesome because I was home this weekend, not traveling (a rarity), and I read an entire book. It’s not hard for me to do, in terms of words and page counts, but I’m just never home for a full weekend, with the time to do so. But even on weekends when I do have the time to take a book from cover to cover, I often don’t. Sometimes a book is just a bummer, and finishing it is too much like work.

This is not that book. I have always had a few OCD-ish tendencies, which made Foust’s memoir appeal to me when I pulled it from its mailer envelope at work. But she’s the real deal, and her writing captures that truth with such twisty-turny clarity (it sounds impossible, but in OCD land, it definitely isn’t) that you zip right through the pages. It’s not about watching a freak show, though there are moments that made me gasp with disbelief. It’s about understanding how a child’s mind can go so awry, how thoughts you know aren’t normal — however loaded that word may be — can take over when your brain’s chemistry isn’t enough to correct them.

There’s no happy ending, but Foust impressed me profoundly. She writes beautifully, the kind of prose that you tear through because it’s so seamless, till that one perfect turn of phrase catches you, nearly breathless. Her ability to recall her past is impressive (my own memories of life as say, a second-grader, are shadowy at best). The way she tells the sometimes-horrific stories of her childhood and adolescence is brutal, but you end up believing the stories are both accurate, and important. Recommended.

On sale now wherever books are sold (follow the Amazon link and look inside!)

http://www.amazon.com/Nowhere-Near-Normal-Memoir-OCD/dp/1439192502/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1303085645&sr=8-1

Seattlest Book Review:

3 May

Book Review: Traci Foust Talks OCD, Family Fun and Burning Eyeballs in Nowhere Near Normal

By Heather Logue on Apr 29, 2011

nowhere.jpg While the majority of California youth were skipping rope and collecting beetles, Traci Foust was scrubbing her hands with Ajax until her skin peeled off, and locking her best friend in a sweltering car, wondering if maybe she would kill her. Yes, these activities are…different, but that is the beauty of Foust’s memoir, Nowhere Near Normal, its utterly distinctive take on childhood. For any of us who have ever turned the car around on the way to work because we’re positive the stove could miraculously have turned itself on (ahem, just once or twice), learning about a girl’s struggle growing up with severe OCD is captivating. The story unfolds with the Foust parents divorcing—the family splitting apart into two locations, and Traci really beginning to struggle with the compulsions and anxieties that make her “abnormal” and drive her family insane. Who needs to unplug all of the appliances every night and lick the electrical sockets? Traci does, because otherwise her family may burn to death in their beds. This frank, strange, and unapologetic logic is what makes Traci a likable (though complicated) narrator. The story leads us through her increasingly complex relationships with her mother and sister, and through the haze of their cigarette smoke we see how lonely it is to be such a different kind of girl. The glance at various approaches to child psychology also intrigues—especially when seeing which professional methods actually have any affect on Traci’s recovery.
As Traci continues to grow up the story electrifies with things at a breaking point with her newly, and zealously, religious mother—culminating in Traci’s impromptu trip to Santa Cruz, a land of sex, drugs, and poetry. Though she eventually returns home, Traci still feels lost, and when Part Three of the memoir opens with news of her mother’s death (a subject touched upon much too briefly)…things seems bleak. The lack of emphasis on her family connectivity towards the end of the book is my only complaint—it feels a little insufficient in contrast to the palpable emotions early on.
But Nowhere Near Normal does inspire in the end, with a conclusion as distinctive as the entertaining and hilarious voice that has been leading us on this trip. Foust has a knack for making you love her, even if her character isn’t always likeable, and even a description of how her great-grandmother tried to burn her own eyeballs with matches is somehow lyrical.
As Edgar Allen Poe (her favorite poet growing up) once wrote, “From childhood’s hour I have not been as others were; I have not seen as others saw; I could not bring my passions from a common spring. From the same source I have not taken my sorrow; I could not awaken my heart to joy at the same tone; And all I loved, I loved alone.”
And really, I couldn’t sum it up any better.

On Sale Now Anywhere Books are Sold (or click on the Amazon Link)

http://www.amazon.com/Nowhere-Near-Normal-Memoir-OCD/dp/1439192502/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1303085645&sr=8-1

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